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Ranch Summer Squash Bake

Published by Jollean Smith in Recipe · 18/6/2020 09:31:30
Tags: SquashSummerRecipeBakeFarm

As you may have heard, I have the best neighbours. One of the great things about them is they share great recipes that use my abundance of garden goods. This is one they recently shared with me that they rave about and makes good use of the highly prolific yellow squash.

Ranch Summer Squash Bake

Slice squash thin.
Layer in a baking dish.
Sprinkle with Ranch Seasoning.
Sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese
Sprinkle with Italian cheese.
Layer more squash and repeat sprinkling.
Add a few Tbsp of butter.
Bake @ 350 for 45 minutes.

Recipe credit: Wanda Jones Taylor with amendments by Nancy Smith < This is the awesome neighbour.

Super simple and yet very tasty!


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Try spaghetti squash pasta.

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Cucumber Salad

Published by Jollean Smith in Recipe · 18/5/2020 08:54:26
Tags: CucumberSaladgardenrecipe

It is cucumber season and this means two things. Pickling and cucumber salads!

All winter I have been eating lettuce, so it is such a refreshing change to have cucumbers. There is something about eating more seasonally that makes you appreciate the food even more. So here is my favourite and very simple cucumber salad.

Cucumber Salad

Note: You do not need to be strict to measurements. I tend to make things to taste and without measuring. I have listed a measurement for your benefit but the best way is to taste and adjust.

Start by mixing:
½ cup of sour cream (you want your cucumbers covered)
1 tbsp of dried dill
1 tbsp of lime juice
Salt & Pepper to taste

Toss in:
3 thick cut slices of cheddar cut into chunky blocks
2 medium cucumbers
¼ red onion thinly sliced
Bonus: If you have feta cheese this is also a great add on. Throw in a few tablespoons.

This salad is best eaten all at once and does not store well. The water in the cucumbers will release making it watery over time.

Well enjoy this great cucumber season salad.

Be friendly. Be kind.

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Smith’s “Nature Friendly” Farm Store

Want to keep reading?
Spaghetti Squash Pasta Recipe

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10 cents from every dollar made at Smith's "Nature Friendly" Farm including ad revenue from Google or Amazon will be donated to the charities we work with. Learn more about how we give back.

Book Review - The Humane Gardener by Nancy Lawson

Published by Jollean Smith in Books · 9/5/2020 09:58:20
Tags: NatureHumaneGardenerNancyLawsonBook

As some of you may know each year we set a book reading goal. This year’s goal is to read 12 books and we have completed 3 so far. I am going to share with you a review of number 3 which was Nancy Lawson’s “The Humane Gardener”.

This book should be the staple book for any nature loving person. It should sit on your coffee table out in the open ready to spark conversation with anyone who visits. I personally loved this book as it was a very close reflection of my personal growth to becoming more nature aware.

Nancy tells her own story of becoming more aware of nature and how she started to see that cultural norms were not very kind to nature. She writes about a few nature loving people who  are using their backyards to create incredible nature friendly spaces.

The book is a very easy read with some beautiful pictures and with just over 200 pages it goes pretty fast. You may want to have a pen and paper handy when reading it, as there are a lot of plant suggestions that you may want to jot down.

What I think I like most about Nancy’s approach in this book is that she is gentle. She is not making anyone feel bad for their habits. She humanizes the journey through her humble sharing of her own experience. She does not push perfection, but encourages balance. This to me will be the key in getting more people to be kinder to nature. It will be very hard to change the habits of our green grass, non native plant and chemical problem solving culture. To encourage change it has to allow for some balance.

I have left many pollinator friendly groups on Facebook as there is no balance. The ones I left jumped on people who still had a love for a not so friendly habit. A green lawn, bug spray, leaf blower, non native plant etc. Although I support the goal of getting people to move away from those things, it won’t be encouraged without a gentle approach and some flexibility. People need an education of the benefits, to grow an awareness of the nature that exists or that develops once some habits are changed. They don’t need to be shamed. Baby steps. If Bob keeps his leaf blower for his driveway but adds some native plants and drops the lawn chemicals, that is progress. If Sandy starts to add native plants but still occasionally adds a few non native tropicals to her garden, that is progress. It does not have to be perfect but we do definitely have to do better. The magic though is when a large number of people in the world make a bunch of small changes for nature and Nancy’s book is encouragement for this.

Her book will give you some very simple ideas on how to be kinder to nature. The stories of the benefits that others are finding will encourage those with a desire to create more balance.

For us at Smith’s Nature Friendly Farm this book aligns 100% with our values and goals. We are not perfect, but we are constantly working to be kinder to nature.

If you buy this book, you will be supporting a person who is educating the world on being kinder to nature. She presents to groups and on social media educating people the simple changes one can make to be kinder to nature. Seems like a good person to spend your hard earned dollars on if you ask me.

Her book is available here on Amazon:

This is a book that will sit on my coffee table for sure, consider adding it to yours.

Alright folks, thanks for reading. Be friendly. Be kind.

Shop with us!
Smith’s “Nature Friendly” Farm Store

Want to keep reading?
Baby chickens for beginners.
3 Trees that get you butterflies.

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Our blog can include Google Advertisements or Amazon affiliate links. These links can generate revenue from Google or Amazon. See our privacy policy to learn more.

10 cents from every dollar made at Smith's "Nature Friendly" Farm including ad revenue from Google or Amazon will be donated to the charities we work with. Learn more about how we give back.

We appreciate you joining us. Be friendly. Be kind. Take care.

We need to stop demonizing bugs.

Published by Jollean Smith in Bugs · 4/5/2020 10:36:02
Tags: Bugsnatureanimalsspidersantsbeesbutterfliesracoons

Humans have a history of demonizing bugs.

My Facebook and Twitter feed is getting hit with a headline about a Murderous Hornet coming to North America. The article puts me in a place I have been many times, defending bugs.

Just like a business how we brand bugs as people, determines how the public will feel about them.

Bumble bees with their fuzzy bums are typically well loved. Butterflies with their beautiful colors are very loved. Honey bees give us honey, how can we not love them? In fact, the honey bee is probably one of the most defended bugs right now with people fired up to save the bees. The problem is, they are not the bee that needs saving. Again, another headline misunderstood.

Honeybees are non native to North America. May have possibly existed long before humans were here based on some fossils but the European honeybee (what we most commonly see and where we get our honey from) are not native to North America. They are technically invasive. They brought with them parasites that the North American native bees were not used to, impacting their survival. People can die from a honey bee sting if they are allergic. Very similar to the “Murderous” Asian wasp.

But selling to North America that honey bees are “murderous” or even invasive would cause an outcry from many who own hives or have honey bee related business. Honey fans in general would scoff at this. So honey bees are lucky, because we are all aware of the value of a honey bee, they are immune to the harmful headlines or hateful comments.

So many other misunderstood creatures are victims of negative branding through unfair headlines. Here are some common branding of some very valuable creatures.

  • 1. Snakes that attack!

  • 2. Deadly spiders!

  • 3. Devil hornworms, killing tomato plants!

  • 4. Killer wasps!

It's not just bugs, we do it to animals too.

  • 5. Chicken eating foxes!

  • 6. Vicious possums!

  • 7. Nuisance racoons!

Headlines like these make killing these creatures easy on our conscience. It’s life saving, right? Actually, wrong. You are more likely to die of a human interaction than any animal interaction.

So I would like to defend some of these guys and present you with some more accurate headlines.

  • 1. Snakes the often invisible rodent eater around your home.

  • 2. Spiders the shy, fly and roach catcher who quietly shares your home.

  • 3. Hornworms, the future hawk moth pollinator. (See them pollinate in this video here)

  • 4. Wasps, natural pest control and a surprising pollinator.
  • 5. Foxes, wild puppies.
  • 6. Possums, the only North American Marsupial and an amazing tick eater.
  • 7. Racoons poop out future forest while helping to keep wasps in check by eating their larvae.

Speaking of larvae, that is another one I see a lot about on forums. Often with “how do I kill larvae in my garden?” You shouldn’t. Not every larvae you find is a flower destroying beetle. In fact many larvae belong to some very beneficial bugs such as the endangered bumble bees.

It’s my hopes that this helps you reconsider sharing a headline that is branding any of mother nature's creatures negatively. Everything has a purpose, we just may not understand it and likely once we do, their headline might look very different to you.

Thanks for reading. Be friendly. Be kind.

Shop with us!
Smith’s “Nature Friendly” Farm Store

Want to keep reading?
Medicinal plants for bees
How to fill your garden with butterflies.

We would love it if you would connect with us:

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Our blog can include Google Advertisements or affiliate links. These links can generate revenue from Google or Amazon. 10 cents from every dollar made at Smith's "Nature Friendly" Farm including ad revenue from Google or Amazon will be donated to the charities we work with. Learn more about how we give back.

Great garden reads:

Baby chicks for beginners.

Published by Jollean Smith in Chickens · 29/4/2020 13:26:53
Tags: chickenschicksfarmhomesteadbabieshealtheggs

If you are just starting with some baby chicks or maybe thinking about getting them. Here are some important things we have learned after successfully introducing and raising some on our farm over the years.

Reality check! If you have not purchased them yet it is important to consider just like any pet, owning an animal is a cost and a responsibility. If you want to truly care for your animals be prepared for work and expenses. A lot of people get chickens expecting to make money on them. The reality is, you likely won’t. You may break even in feed costs. But when you calculate what you spent on birds, feed and care (let alone housing materials). Chickens will not bring in the bling.

They are also work. They are fluffy butted, stinky poopers. That poop needs to get cleaned. The smaller their roaming space the more cleaning you can expect to do.

They will destroy a garden. If you have a small residential lot and have visions of letting them roam your yard, you may want to consider what they will do to your landscaping and garden. Unless, its mint or large squash plants my chickens will wreak havoc all over. You can’t lay down mulch materials, they scratch that all over the place. If you grow lettuce and they find it, you will never see it again.

Now, if you are good with all that then wonderful, chickens are an awesome small farm animal to have. I love never buying eggs at the grocery store. Their fluffy bums chasing you down for some scratch feels like chicken love.

With your commitment to being a good chicken tender here are some beginner tips to chicks.

Products you should have on hand to start.
1. Fireproof container or caged breeder box. A good holding space with adequate space and the ability to allow for a heat lamp to be applied safely.
2. A heat lamp. You want a heat lamp that can stay securely in it’s place and is safe enough to be used without constant supervision. Chickens flutter about, the last thing you need is one knocking off the lamp and burning your barn or house down.
Not the one we use but fancy as it has a thermometer.
Chicken heat lamp
Simple Deluxe 150W Reptile Heat Bulb & 150W Clamp Light with 8.5" Reflector & Digital Thermostat Controller Combo Set
3. A water dish. Water dish needs to be no spill. Chicks stand on their disches and flutter about. Water will make your chicks space much messier when spilt. Also, chicks cannot swim and likely would drown in a large bowl.
Here is one we use:
M.Z.A Poultry Water Jug Automatic Poultry Waterer Small Poultry Water Containers Drinkers for Chickens Birds Pigeon Quail 1L (Red and White)
4. Feed dish. You can most certainly use just about anything as a feed dish but the one designed for chicks work well for two reasons. One, they are less likely to stand in them resulting in bird poop in their food. Two, they prevent the chicken from trying to scratch in their food spilling it.
This is the one we use:
Little Giant Plastic Feeder Base (1 Quart) Heavy Duty Plastic Water Tray Base for Container (Yellow) (Item No. 806YELLOW)
5. A poop screen. If your chicks are in a container with a solid bottom, I highly recommend a poop screen. This screen will keep the chicks cage smelling a lot better a lot longer.. See our video on the poop screen here.
6. Wood shavings, newspaper and/or straw. Shavings have to be used with caution. Pine & cedar shavings can be toxic but the real silent killer is in the dust that shavings can kick up. This is another reason why I love a poop screen. With a poop screen we have newspaper and shavings below the chickens collect their poop nuggets. But the chicks cannot scratch or play in the shavings. This prevents the dust coming up.
7. Medicated chick feed. Chicks are susceptible to a coccidiosis. This is a parasite in the gut of birds. Full grown unvaccinated chickens can also be impacted by this. Feeding your chicks medicated chick food will prevent your flock from getting this common chick killing disease. You can also put your full grown chickens on a rotation of medicated chick feed for 6 weeks as part of a health routine. It will not harm your chickens to consume medicated chick feed but it likely will not have as much calcium as laying feed. If you do feed your chickens medicated chick feed for 6 weeks, then I would recommend providing extra calcium such as oyster shells or our farm favourite cottage cheese.
Here is what we use:
Purina Start & Grow Starter/Grower Medicated Feed Crumbles, 5 lb bag

Bonus beneficial items:

8. Chicken dust. Chickens dust bathe to prevent and get rid of mites. Now, I have not typically provided this to any of my chicks just because it had not occurred to me. But after seeing a post from someone on Facebook showing their chicks dusting in it, I think I would. I am all about happy chicks and her chicks looked happy being able to dust in it.  
Recommended on Facebook:
Chick Duster
Lixit Chicken Dust Bath 5.5 lb
9. Chicken Vitamins. I have not used this out of desperation but mearly used it as a preventative to health problems. We have never lost a chick yet so either we are very lucky or our preventative measures work. This vitamin helps with a chickens overall health and heat stress.
Chicken Vitamins - Rooster Booster Poultry Cell, 16-Ounce
10. VetRx Poultry Aid. This is another preventative health measure for chicks and chickens. We have never lost a chicken to illness (just a hawk and a possum) so I do feel these preventative measures do seem to help along with roaming and good pen cleanliness.
VetRx - Vetrx Poultry Aid, 2 fl.oz

Ok so you are now fully stocked with all the goods for a happy healthy flock.

Now what?

Their temperature matters. Pay attention to how many weeks your new chicks are. When you purchase them, a reputable seller they will let you know how many weeks old they are. This is important as the younger they are, the warmer they need to be. Now, I have not measured the temperature with my chicks but I have things that I do to ensure they are at the right temp.

First is the set up. Have a space that is large enough for the number of chicks. They need to be able to flutter about and get away from the heat if needed. If the space below the heat lamp is too hot they need to be able to get out of the heat.

Listen to your chicks. You will know if they are not content. If they are happy you will hear constant chatter. Happy trills and chirps. If they are not happy there will be a short chirp over and over. A call for help. If you want to know what that sounds like, remove one chick from the group and place it outside the box. It will chirp to tell you it wants to be back with the flock. That is the same chirp that happens when there's a problem.

Look at your chicks. If they are trying to lay on top of each other all in a bunch under the heat lamp, chances are they are cold. If they lay slightly scattered about but still under the heat lamp they are ok. If they are all staying out from under the heat lamp, chances are the lamp is too low and it’s too hot. You want to see them flow throughout the box happily and sleep comfortably near their heat source.

Keep babies inside for 6 weeks. I know this is not possible for everyone but I have found that it works well as an added layer of temperature protection. Do be extra careful operating a heat lamp though. I have seen people clip them onto a paper box and that is such a big fire risk. Keep it only against non flammable materials and under regular supervision. Even inside chicks will require a heatlamp.

At about 6 weeks the chicks will have their adult feathers and will be more adapted for being outside and with less heating support. I would not rip off the bandaid for chics though. Start by putting them outside (if they started inside) with a heat lamp. Then turn off the lamp during the day for a day or two, keeping it on at night. Then move to turning it off at night.

Be mindful of your location. If you live in a cold climate, you will need to take into account your temps. I introduce my chicks to the outside in Mississippi in April which is significantly warmer than my home province of Alberta, Canada in April.

Chickens are actually better in colder temperatures as adults than hot temps, but the key difference we are being mindful of, is that chicks do not have their adult feathers and cannot “fluff” for heat yet. Fluffing up is when a chicken fluffs up their feathers, capturing air in between their feathers to stay warm.

In colder climates, I would not introduce your chicks to living outdoors without a heat source until it will be 50f/10c at night.

Check for pasty chicken butts. When we shifted to the poop screen we did not have any issues with a messy chick butts. But with our first batch of chicks, before we had a poop screen we had one chicken who got “pasty butt”. This can actually kill the chick, making them sick. Unfortunately, your chick will not like having their butt washed either. Every day inspect your chickens fuzzy butts to ensure they have a clean bottom. If they are messy work off the pasty butt with warm water and a cloth.
Clean water daily, for life! The best way to have a chicken get ill is through its food and water sources. So ensuring you clean their water dish daily will help that. Make sure to scrub your waterer to get the film build up off of it.

Feed crushed medicated chick feed. As mentioned above, medicated chick feed helps to prevent parasites in the chicks. Crushed feed is better suited for the small chicks as well. Keep your chicks on medicated chick feed until about 18 weeks (4 months). After you will want them on laying pellets for the extra nutrients to support a good egg.

Keep their spaces clean. Chickens and chicks are dirty smelly and yet lovable fuzzy butted creatures. But they need your help to ensure that their living spaces are kept clean. They are constant poopers and they eat and peck where they poop. That poop can contain bacteria. If they are outside other birds can poop and they too leave their bacteria behind. So ensure you allow for ample space and regular cleaning will really help reduce their ingestion of bacteria. It’s almost impossible to avoid entirely as these are birds who roam and peck in the dirt but you can prevent a fair bit by being on top of their cleanliness.

Well that covers the basics of chicks. There are many one-offs so Google is your friend. Caring for chickens is also another level of learning with many commonalities too. More on that later.

I honestly love my chickens (except when they raid my garden) and find they are worth every bit of this effort.

Shop with us!
Smith’s “Nature Friendly” Farm Store

Want to keep reading?
Why you should be careful with seed saving for squash plants. Learn about toxic squash.
We tested a YouTubers recipe for Powdery Mildew and guess what this really works! Read more here.

We would love it if you would connect with us:

On YouTube  
On Facebook
On Twitter  

Our blog includes Google Advertisements and affiliate links. These advertisements can generate revenue. Learn more within our privacy policy page.

10 cents from every dollar made at Smith's Nature Friendly Farm will be donated to the charities we work with. Learn more about how we give back.

We appreciate you joining us. Be friendly. Be kind. Take care.

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